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Tuberculous arthritis revisited as a forgotten cause of monoarticular arthritis

Author(s): Al-Sayyad Mohammed | Abumunaser Lutf

Journal: Annals of Saudi Medicine
ISSN 0256-4947

Volume: 31;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 398;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Background and Objectives: Tuberculosis (TB) continues to be a major concern for health care workers. The number of reported cases of extrapulmonary tuberculosis, particularly osteoarticular tuberculosis, is increasing. This fact is attributed to different factors such as underestimating the disease and difficulty in diagnosis, which requires tissue sampling and can lead to a delay in the diagnosis, and can result in significant morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to highlight the difficulties and delay in diagnosis of articular tuberculosis, raising the need to create awareness about the importance of early diagnosis to avoid major complications of joint destruction. Design and Setting: Retrospective review of patients presenting to a tertiary care center between 2003 and 2009. Patients and Methods: We reviewed cases who presented with monoarticular joint pain and swelling that failed to respond to treatment elsewhere and were eventually diagnosed as having articular tuberculosis. We collected the demographic data, history, data on clinical examination and the relevant laboratory investigations, in addition to the data on radiological studies. All patients were treated medically with antituberculosis chemotherapy and surgically according to the severity of joint destruction. Results: Thirteen patients had a mean age was 40 years (range, 17-70 years). The average delay in diagnosis was 2 years. Only 1 patient had pulmonary TB. The hip, knee and elbow were the most common joints involved. Bacteriology was positive in 69% of the cases; and histopathology, in 92%. Fifteen percent of the patients had arthrodesis. None showed recurrence after follow-up of 4 years. Conclusion: A high level of clinical suspicion is essential for early diagnosis and treatment of osteoarticular TB to reduce its significant morbidity.

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